The birth of a child is one of the biggest events in a person's life, and with it comes an entirely new set of responsibilities and challenges. While there is obvious change, the departure of a good night's sleep for one, maintaining your mental health can be tricky after the arrival of a little one. Mike Tweed talks with parents about the challenges they faced in the first few months.
Tammy Forsyth-Oosthuizen and her husband Dan welcomed their son Danny into the world seven weeks ago.
"You kind of have to let go of who you were pre-baby, because you can no longer just think about yourself. There's a little human who is completely dependent on you."
She always made sure to have 30 minutes in the morning to get ready for the day ahead, with her husband taking care of Danny during that time.
That happened again at the end of the day.
Being at home alone all day could be tough, but having other people to turn to who were in the exact same position greatly helped, Forsyth-Oosthuizen said.
"We emigrated from South Africa three years ago so we don't have family here, but we have amazing friends who have stepped up to help.
"I also have a crazy-awesome antenatal group, and we are all still in contact."
Danny's birth didn't go to plan and the family stayed in the hospital for longer than expected.
"I don't think a mum's mental health is considered at all in the hospital. I think left there with a little bit of PTSD.
"There was a lot of pressure to breastfeed and it wasn't something I was succeeding at.
"Again, talking to other mums and talking to my husband about it really helped me set up for the next steps."
Whānau Āwhina Plunket acting head nurse Karen Magrath said no one had all the answers when it came to parenting.
"Your family is different to any other family.
"The main thing I always say to people is make the most of it. It's such an exciting, joyful time, but it's also such a challenging time."
A key thing for a new parent was to be kind to themselves, Magrath said.
"Don't plan too far ahead. It's your smiles, your gentle voice, your expressions and your touch that are building your baby's brain."
Whanganui dad Costas Thrasyvoulou and his partner Jessica Kidd had their second child three weeks ago.
"You're driving home from the hospital and the whole world seems different," he said.
"The perception of danger changes. It feels like you're the Terminator, looking around and processing everything to keep your child safe."
Like Forsyth-Oosthuizen, he said they were lucky to have a lot of support around them after both births.
"We didn't have to worry about what was for dinner, because my mum or a friend had cooked something.
"In terms of our mental health and managing that transition, you can't put a price on that.
"If you're a solo mum with a new baby, I couldn't begin to imagine how difficult that is."
Mother-of-two Hannah Futter went through post-natal depression after both pregnancies.
She and her husband Rory's first child was born with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects growth and development.
"That made things extra hard at the start, and he was readmitted to hospital when he was 2 weeks old," Futter said.
"Things were pretty complicated. I thought that maybe the second time around it [post-natal depression] wouldn't happen. It did.
"Both pregnancies were hard, and were just as challenging for my mental health."
Having people who would come and "just hang out" had been crucial, Futter said.
"They were making sure I was feeding myself. I had shared with them that when I was really low I would lose my appetite.
"It was having company, but with an expectation that you weren't going to be 'yay, look at my new baby'. It was more about just being there."
Magrath said Plunket was there for single mums and single dads alike.
"Identify someone you trust and can reach out to, that's there for you.
"We've got Plunketline of course, which is available 24/7. There are nurses there to offer support and advice.
"There are also lactation consultants who work through Plunketline, and we do video calling for them.
"We have really stepped up our game in terms of virtual delivery during the pandemic, because it [Covid-19] has made people feel additionally alone and anxious."
Whānau Āwhina Plunket national nurse educator Māori, Waikura Carla Kamo, said whānau played a massive role when new parents were going through challenging times, especially in terms of mental health.
"Ki te kotahi te kākaho, ka whati; ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati - if a reed stands alone it can be broken, but if it's in a group it cannot.
"For Māori in particular, that shared purpose and sense of belonging is the strongest thing."
Kamo said she couldn't stress enough how important it was for new parents to look after themselves, as well as their baby.
"We celebrate the baby but sometimes Mum gets left out. She went through a massive change during that time.
"Whānau have to remember that experiencing mental health issues doesn't make you a bad parent."
It seemed like society had an image of parenthood as only a happy, beautiful time, Futter said.
"We really put ourselves through the wringer trying to do what you think a mum is supposed to do.
"Ultimately, a happy mum makes for a happy baby.
"It's different for everybody, so everybody should be able to say how they're feeling and for that to be supported."
Forsyth-Oosthuizen said letting her husband know how she was feeling, no matter what she was feeling, was important.
"There are times when you're both sleep-deprived and it feels like you're on a liferaft in the middle of the ocean.
"Sometimes there is a reluctance to ask for help because as a mum you don't want to be seen as failing your kid, but you aren't failing or being a terrible parent if you ask for help.
"You are trying to ensure you are the best version of yourself for them."
Plunketline can be reached on 0800 933 922.
Where to get help
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
For counselling and support
Lifeline: Call 0800 543 354 or text 4357 (HELP)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: Call 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Need to talk? Call or text 1737
Depression helpline: Call 0800 111 757 or text 4202
For children and young people
Youthline: Call 0800 376 633 or text 234
What's Up: Call 0800 942 8787 (11am to 11pm) or webchat (11am to 10.30pm)
The Lowdown: Text 5626 or webchat
For help with specific issues
Alcohol and Drug Helpline: Call 0800 787 797
Anxiety Helpline: Call 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY)
OutLine: Call 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE) (6pm-9pm)
Safe to talk (sexual harm): Call 0800 044 334 or text 4334
All services are free and available 24/7 unless otherwise specified.
For more information and support, talk to your local doctor, hauora, community mental health team, or counselling service.